South Indian Shrimp Kebabs with Cilantro Sauce

July/August 2011

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Cilantro, lemon zest, chiles, paprika, ginger, garlic, cumin and fenugreek make up the South Asian-inspired marinade for grilled shrimp-and-cantaloupe kebabs. A yogurt sauce spiked with plenty of herbs and spices is delightful for dipping.

South Indian Shrimp Kebabs with Cilantro Sauce

Makes: 6 servings

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Total Time:


Marinade & Shrimp

  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 serrano chiles or small jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek (see Notes) or turmeric
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 pounds peeled, deveined raw shrimp (16-20 count; see Notes)

Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 1/2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt


  • 8 cups cubed ripe but firm cantaloupe (about 1 small melon; 1 1/2-inch cubes)
  • Lemon wedges for serving


  1. To marinate shrimp: Whisk 1/2 cup yogurt, chopped cilantro, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, chiles, paprika, minced ginger, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, fenugreek (or turmeric), cloves and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Stir in shrimp to completely coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. To prepare cilantro sauce: Process ginger and garlic in a food processor (or blender) until finely chopped. Add cilantro leaves, scallions, mint, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, cumin, coriander, salt and sugar; pulse until chopped. Add 3/4 cup yogurt and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.
  3. To prepare kebabs: Preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat or prepare a medium-high-heat fire in a charcoal grill.
  4. Thread the shrimp and cantaloupe alternately onto 12- to 14-inch skewers. You may have a little cantaloupe left over. (Discard any remaining marinade.) Grill the kebabs, turning once, until the shrimp are cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total. Remove to a clean large serving platter. Serve with lemon wedges and the cilantro sauce for dipping.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate the cilantro sauce (Step 2) for up to 1 day. | Equipment: 6 (12- to 14-inch) skewers
  • Notes: Fenugreek, a common element in curries, gives the marinade a distinct sweet and bitter taste. Look for ground fenugreek in the bulk spice section in most natural-foods stores.
  • Shrimp is usually sold by the number needed to make one pound. For example, “21-25 count” means there will be 21 to 25 shrimp in a pound. Size names, such as “large” or “extra large,” are not standardized, so to get the size you want, order by the count per pound. Both wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp can damage the surrounding ecosystems when not managed properly. Fortunately, it is possible to buy shrimp that have been raised or caught with sound environmental practices. Look for fresh or frozen shrimp certified by an independent agency, such as the Marine Stewardship Council. If you can’t find certified shrimp, choose wild-caught shrimp from North America—it’s more likely to be sustainably caught.
  • To peel, grasp the legs and hold onto the tail while you twist off the shell. To devein, use a paring knife to make a slit along the length of the shrimp. Remove the dark digestive tract (or “vein”) with the knife tip.


Per serving: 211 calories; 2 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 167 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 24 g protein; 3 g fiber; 736 mg sodium; 843 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (174% daily value), Vitamin C (153% dv), Potassium (24% dv), Folate (21% dv), Magnesium (16% dv)

Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2

Exchanges: 1 fruit, 3 lean meat

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July/August 2011
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